It wasn't nerves. It was a building sense of anticipation.
Who was going to do it?
Who was going to win this thing?
It turned out to be Werth, who hit a three-run home run to left field to beat the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, 4-1. The Phillies have won 10 straight games, their longest winning streak since they won 13 in a row in 1991, as they maintained their 6 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the National League East.
"I still don't think we're clicking on all cylinders just yet," Werth said. "We're a second-half club and down the stretch is when we play our best. We just need to keep setting the table for September. I think you'll see our best baseball in September and October."
This current stretch is tough to beat. The Phillies have won 14 of their past 15 games since they lost to the Braves on July 2. They lead the Majors with 95 runs and a 2.15 ERA in that span. The club's starters are 10-0 with a 2.34 ERA. Opponents have hit just .206 against them. The bullpen is 4-1 with six saves, nine holds and a 1.77 ERA. Opponents have hit just .179 against Philadelphia's relief corps.
They showed that great pitching Tuesday.
Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton made his first official start following the All-Star break. He started Saturday against the Marlins, but that game got postponed in the second inning because of rain.
Blanton has been on a roll lately. He started the season 2-3 with a 7.11 ERA in his first eight starts, but is 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA (17 earned runs in 63 innings) in 10 starts since May 21.
Blanton allowed just five hits and one run in seven innings.
"It's a little more quality pitches, maybe," Blanton said. "Maybe changeup has come around lately. My sinker is down instead of flat and over the plate, and that always helps. Other than that, I'm just trying to pitch."
|"I still don't think we're clicking on all cylinders just yet. We're a second-half club and down the stretch is when we play our best. We just need to keep setting the table for September. I think you'll see our best baseball in September and October."|
|-- Jayson Werth|
The bullpen pitched just as well. It allowed no hits and no walks in six scoreless innings.
Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth and Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth, having a role in an unbelievable inning-ending double play. Kosuke Fukudome hit a bullet up the middle with Aramis Ramirez on first. Lidge instinctively kicked the ball, which went directly to Jimmy Rollins, who was moving across second base. Rollins fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first to get Fukudome in plenty of time to end the inning.
Chan Ho Park threw a spectacular three innings of scoreless relief. He allowed no hits and no walks and struck out five. Park is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA (five earned runs in 24 2/3 innings) in his past 16 relief appearances. He has allowed just 18 hits and four walks and has struck out 28.
Clay Condrey (6-2) pitched a scoreless 13th to pick up the win.
"These are the defending World [Series] champs," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said. "They've got a good pitching staff. They've got some guys coming out of the bullpen who are pretty dang good. You've got to be ready when you get here."
Werth was ready when he faced Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who had walked Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez with two outs. That set up Werth and Samardzija, who hung a 1-1 splitter over the plate.
Werth crushed it. It was the Phillies' first hit since the eighth.
"It was just a hanger and I was able to stay through it a little bit," Werth said. "One good thing about CBP is if you get them up in the air, they'll go."
The Phillies have a chance to sweep the Cubs in the series finale Wednesday afternoon.
They are hitting well. They are pitching well. They look capable of making some damage in the postseason.
Werth was asked if this year's team could be better than last year's team.
"I don't know," he said. "That's a lot of what ifs and all that. I don't like to speculate. I just know we've got a good ballclub here. We've got the same nucleus as last year. Throw in a couple guys like Raul Ibanez and Chan Ho Park. We've got Pedro Martinez now and maybe he'll be able to contribute once he gets healthy and back. And who knows? The Trade Deadline is in 10 days. We'll see if we can make an addition. But if not, I think we've got a good chance. You've just got to get there."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.